Friday, June 19, 2015

The Carterista

There are pickpockets in Barcelona, I am told. But I am not worried. The "carteristas" are opportunists, and I am careful. My hand is in my pocket, and my belongings are secure.

On the streets, I am vigilant. My eyes sweep the shadows for suspicious characters. I'm not sure what a pickpocket looks like. I imagine them in caricature—Dickensian, with Romani roots—handsome, and dangerous, with black, curly hair, and feverish eyes. The kind who would steal your girl, then steal your car to take her on a date. That, is what I feared.


This is what I knew:
  • The train was crowded.
  • The map obscured my view.
  • The young man with the map looked like an American college student.
When he handed me my Moleskin travel journal, I knew it could not have leapt, unassisted, from the depths of my Velcroed cargo pants pocket to the floor of the speeding Metro. I KNEW he had stolen it, but I was overwhelmed with relief that this, the one thing I could never replace, my external memory, had been returned to my grateful hands and not discarded, as worthless—for surely it must have seemed so to him.

I felt for, and found my wallet, secreted away in a protected pocket, and looked the would-be thief in the eye. Aye, caballero. We are men of the world. We have met here on this battlefield, and this time I won. You fought well, and I do not begrudge you your living. Thank you, for returning to me, what is rightfully mine, that could be of no value to you.

I emerged from the underground, jubilant, and pregnant with prose—storyteller, with a story to tell. It was a beautiful day—a great day to be alive. It was several blocks before I reached for my phone.


This is what I know now:
  • Pickpockets are clever.
  • They look like you and me.
  • They don't like notebooks.
  • One has a very nice phone. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I started this blog back in 2010 as a place to reflect on the good and the great, the silly and sublime moments that capture my imagination. It began during a season in my life where I had a lot of time on my hands and posting was a form of daily affirmation. The ensuing years have been full and abundant with blessings. Facebook has intervened. Every now and then, however, I come across a picture, or get into a reflective mood consistent with the spirit of Raisin Box Trumpet. This picture just had to be here. Which brings me to my favorite part of each post.

The Good Stuff

Book signings
Poetry readings
Christmas lights
Hot tubs
Milk Stout
Demolition derbies

Thursday, February 23, 2012


A train leaves Chicago traveling south at 90 miles and hour
Arrives in Orlando at half-past eight
Catching me late for work
Hating the genius who planned this parade

I roll down my window and
To the clack, clack, clack, clack
Syncopated rhythm of the 
Clack, clack, clack
Runnin and a hummin and a
Box cars
Box cars rollin
Clang, clang, clang, clang
One after the other . . . 

You do the math
Half an hour late to start
Now I'm stuck here waiting on this train
That  seems to be slow-ing down as. I. speak.
Dragging time . . .
       Drag- ing time . . . 

Dragging time along with it 
Like that Salvadore Dali painting
Or a sticky pink strand
From the hot black top
To the heel of my left high top 
Slowing me down
Just enough to throw my whole day out of

I sit. Here. Waiting.
And watch
The fwip, fwip, fwip, fwip
Poetry in motion of the
Fwip, fwip, fwip
Visceral emotion of the 
Tag art
art flowing
Bang, bang, bang, bang
One after the other . . . 

Who teaches this . . . ?
Baggy pants Picassos
With their aerosol brushes
Blowin art ten feet high
On the side of a freight

Big balloon letters
And a fairly detailed Oscar the Grouch
Because nothing says "Bad to the bone"
Like a Sesame Street character

Then I think . . . 
What if that guy, Cristo,
'Stead of spending all that money building bras for volcanoes
Or Wyland!
Were to paint up a train
So that no matter how the cars were switched up
You'd see fish . . . 
Or whales swimming

But then that last car passes
The gate swings up 
I'm on my way
And I think 
Then you'd just have people
Blowing off work altogether
And driving around all day
To get stuck at a crossing.

The Good Stuff:

Pelicans - always pelicans
Red shouldered hawk, flying, with 4-foot red rat snake
Fresh flowers
Couples massage
A brand-new byline
Yielding for pedestrians
A President who sings on key
Dove chocolate

and blogging ... occasionally

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some very good people, a very good place, and a good time

I've been away for awhile. But, I assure you, it has been for the best of reasons. My business has exploded and I've been working like a fool from dawn to dusk. I didn't mean to leave you hanging. Lots to say, just not much time to say it.

The picture above was from last night's reading at the Kerouac House in College Park. Finer company you couldn't hope to keep. Poets, writers, and benefactors, brought together to celebrate the life and legacy of Jack, to make sure it doesn't get lost in the muck of his sad final chapter, as a brilliant mind succumbed to the terrible disease of alcoholism.

The embedded audio below is a podcast of Out and About with Jeremy Seghers on WPRK-FM, a radio show from Valentine's Day weekend, where Darlyn and I read our poetry along with some favorites by Neruda and Michael Ondaatje. We come on at 35 minutes in if you want to queue it up directly. But if you do, you'll be missing Mean Mary, a wonderful singer/songwriter from Nashville, who performed with us live in the studio.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Paging Tavi ... Rikki Tikki Tavi, party of 10

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but here are some words from today's newspaper, that paint quite a picture. I'm not going to explain this . . . I'm just going to put it out there and let y'all guess what the story may have been about . . . no fair Googling it. Here it is:

"I guess I need a snake lover; either that or someone with multiple mongooses."

This line is good enough to stand without a separate list of The Good Stuff. Carry On.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hairy Potter

I'm kind of worried about my new "themed" barber.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Deere Darlyn

A couple of winters ago, I took Darlyn home to visit my people. Nebraska - land of big shoulders, and bigger tractors. My brother-in-law is a farmer in Western Nebraska - Willa Cather country. At some point, as we were all walking slow, burning off a big meal, he took us to the massive barn where he keeps his tractor collection. We're not talking Tonka trucks here folks. We're talking about the real deal -- John Deere green from door to door. Being a guy, it didn't take much for me to fall under the spell of the smell of motor oil and deisel fuel. I felt the rush of potential as Tom spun the big weighted flywheel and the old pre-ignition tractor sputtered to life with its syncopated hiccopy cadence.

The big surprise, for me, was Darlyn. I looked over to make sure she wasn't bored and saw a gleam in her eye. Her eyes danced across the ponderous farm machinery and she clapped her cashmere-gloved hands with the delight of  a child on Christmas morning. She had her eye on one of the more recent additions, a big modern enclosed cab job And I knew that, given the chance, she'd be up in that cab, bouncing on that suspended seat, making vroom-vroom noises and singing the theme from Green Acres in a heartbeat.

I wasn't wrong. Vroom-vroom!

The good stuff:
Living in Florida in January.
Rowing reunions
Building a business
Building a s'more
Fresh produce
Vegetarian pizza
Turning "to do" to "ta da!"
The circus coming to town
Cash Cab